Thursday, April 16, 2015

“Making signs in large Letters that spelled out ‘Libertad’”

US Marines are headed to Honduras. I’m still unclear on the relationship of these Marines to the 250-Marine unit. Some articles seem to suggest that that force is still being reviewed, while several hours ago the Argentina Independent (which might be confused) reported that it’s been approved.

In any case, it’s clear that they’re going to Honduras on the pretext of providing humanitarian aid, the precise forms of which seem to change with every announcement – hurricane response, other unspecified disaster relief, building schools, providing medical care [!!!],… These claims are implausible in light of, well, many things, but especially the public statements to the effect that the Marines would also be dedicated to fighting drug trafficking and organized crime and the most recent impetus for the genesis of the unit, the Central American Regional Security Conference held in Honduras a few weeks ago:
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez welcomed security and defense leaders from 14 nations as they gathered in Tegucigalpa March 25 for two days of talks on ways to strengthen their ongoing security cooperation and counter transnational organized crime in Central America.

The president spoke to more than 100 participants during the opening ceremony for the annual Central American Regional Security Conference (CENTSEC), co-hosted by the Honduran armed force's Joint Staff and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

‘We've reached a conclusion that regional efforts and approaches are fundamental, because those we are up against also have a regional approach and have a very high level of sophistication, so the only way to confront them is by working together,’ he told them.
I wonder when hurricanes were discussed…

The increasing US military presence in Honduras comes amid calls from Latin American leaders to eliminate existing US bases in the region. UNASUR head Ernesto Samper called recently for their closing, arguing that they were a relic of the Cold War and a symbol and means of US political dominance.

The claims of humanitarian motives strike an especially bitter chord given the treatment of people seeking asylum from these countries in the US. Democracy Now! is reporting on a hunger strike of women with children held in a for-profit internment center in Texas.
After five months in detention with her two-year-old son, Kenia Galeano joined a hunger strike with about other 70 mothers to push for their release. Today she described how she and several others were held in isolation as punishment.

‘Inside this room it was really cold. It was dark. The toilet was right next to the bed. My son was in there with me this entire time’, Galeano said.

She also recalled threats that families would be separated if the strike continued.

‘A guard told us if we didn’t eat we would not be equipped to take care of our children, and risked having them taken away’, Galeano said.

The women ended their strike on April 3 but now ten more have vowed to begin again Wednesday to refuse to eat except for one meal each evening. Like last time, they want bond hearings so they can be free while seeking asylum, as well as improved food and conditions at the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, which is run by the private prison company, The Geo Group.

Galeano, who is from Honduras, was released on a $7,500 bond after the hunger strike ended. Her family paid $3,000 and the rest was supplemented by the Family Detention Bond Fund. But she said she can’t stop thinking about the hundreds of women she left behind, like her cellmate who had an eleven-year-old son.

Two incident reports provided to Democracy Now! show a group of Karnes detainees tried to draw the attention of a helicopter that flew overhead on April 2 by making large letters on signs that spelled out ‘libertad’ which means liberty. Staff who documented the incident called it an ‘insurrection’.

On May 2 a nationwide protest is planned outside the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, the other facility where hundreds of women and children have been detained since seeking asylum from violence in Central America. The event will kick-off a week of actions that end on Mother’s Day.
Here are the two original reports:

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